When you think of portion control, what are the first thoughts that pop into your head?

Hopefully it’s not a negative connotation or an inner grumble. The phrase itself can be associated with deprivation and ‘boring’ meals, but we are here to completely change the game! Portion control is simply eating to your fulfillment and satisfaction without excess. Having a plan in place will help that idea become reality again and again as you weave through the Pure 21 Wellness Challenge and beyond.

Quit the ‘clean plate club’

It’s important to realize that the ‘clean plate club’ from childhood isn’t a goal you should aim for at every meal. Letting our stomachs tell our brains that ‘we’ve had enough’ is something we should lean into and listen to when possible. But sometimes that listening isn’t always easy. To help ourselves ‘hear’ that message a little louder, science has proven that when eating from a smaller plate, our portions appear larger. But when we use larger bowls, we eat more. For example, in a study, people using a large bowl ate 77% more pasta than those using a medium-sized bowl. In a similar fashion, we can use smaller utensils to  slow down and be more mindful and present during meals. You can always go back to get more. If you don’t get seconds, that’s just meal prep you don’t have to do later.

Here’s what certain portions should look like:

Non-starchy Veggies: the size of a fist

Fat: 1 or 2 thumbs (easy rule of thumb, huh?)

Protein: the size of your palm or computer mouse

Switch it up

You’ll notice veggies should take up a good part of your plate. To ‘spice it up’ a little bit, think about doing just that to your routine veggies and protein. Use new herbs and spices to add a kick. Shred up carrots and consume them a different way from your norm. Masking their normal look and flavor profile goes a long way, we promise!

Grab ‘n go

Convenience is the overall name of the game with this plan. Make portion sizes accessible by thinking ahead of time to eliminate sugary snack traps at work or late at night. The more you grab healthier snacks and veggies in between your meals, the more you’ll thank yourself later on.


Last but certainly not least, we couldn’t leave without mentioning one of the two of the most important portion tips of all: drink, drink, drink (water, that is!) before, during, and after meals. This will ensure that you’re actually hungry and not just thirsty when you sit down for a meal.

One last tip: eat from a plate or bowl, and not the food container that the item came in. That’s a great way to make sure you don’t overindulge! Measure out your snacks, not just your meals, and you’ll become a portion control pro!

Kayla Hansmann

Kayla Hansmann

B.S., M.S., Dietetic Internship
Kayla Hansmann is a Cincinnati-area dietitian and fitness instructor working with individuals one-on-one, in corporate work-site wellness, as well as various community settings. With experience from Cincinnati Children's Hospital to adult chronic disease management, she is focused on providing comprehensive and personalized nutrition to all individuals in various stages of life to achieve their personal goals and best state of health.